Hot Boss, Boardroom Mistress(4)

By: Natalie Anderson

And then she remembered the aftermath.

Jared James was bad—bad-mannered, bad-tempered, badly behaved and bad for her.

He picked up her hand. Immediately she tried to pull it away but his grip became lethal and she stopped trying to resist. His hold instantly softened but he didn’t let go, instead pulling so her wrist crossed the arm rest and he could study her fingers more closely.

Her erratic breathing stopped altogether. Her skin sizzled where it was in contact with his.

‘I don’t believe these pretty hands have ever known hard work.’ He turned her hand over and the index finger of his free hand made circles in the centre of her palm.

It tickled and she wanted to pull it away but at the same time…at the same time…the rest of her started to—


More circles teased.

Her fingers quivered in his as she shuddered in a wisp of air.

A smile softened his mouth. The kind of smile that he’d never turned on her before—one that both tempted and made her nervous. It deepened, becoming the kind of smile that would have a woman on a bed and spread in seconds.

Oh, no. She couldn’t let him do this—she couldn’t fall again just like that…

‘Hands like these are all about pleasure.’ He walked two fingers even more lightly across her palm and then lifted his head to catch her wide-eyed, mesmerised gaze on the full. ‘Aren’t they, Amanda?’

Chapter Two

AMANDA curled her fingers into a fist and jerked it free of Jared’s, burning with embarrassment. And what made it worse was her suspicion that he knew that embarrassment wasn’t all she was burning with. All grown-up maturity and attempts at politeness escaped her. She glared at him. Breathing again. Hating the effect he had on her—the effect he’d always had—smile or not.

But he, the swine, was laughing. Those dark, bottomless, devilish eyes were creased at the corners. She daren’t look at his mouth. She daren’t…but her eyes slid and then she did. Oh, it was that smile again, only now it was tainted with a touch of sarcasm.

This was just too humiliating. To bump into the man who had been the cause of so much heartache and discover he still could make the world tilt with just a look?

‘Will you excuse me, Jared? I have some work to get on with.’ Cool practicality could be her only defence. She’d deal with her hormones later.

‘Really, Amanda?’

‘Actually yes. Contrary to what you may think, I’m not independently wealthy and do actually have to earn money to be able to eat.’

‘But not at this hour surely?’

She glanced at her watch. A little after nine and it meant that there was still about an hour of this hellish flight to go. She stared at the laptop screen, wishing she could disappear into it like in some weird sci-fi movie.

‘You know you were always beautiful, Amanda, but you’re even more beautiful now.’ He sounded coolly detached, as if he were discussing the weather.

‘Do you think?’ She almost managed a disinterested inflexion but choked on the last word and then was unable to stop herself looking at him again.

He took the opportunity to give her another searing once-over.

‘Very much. A little pale, perhaps a bit thin, it’s hard to see under that coat, but your cheekbones are a little gaunt. Been burning the candle?’

Not in the way he meant. While there had been many sleepless nights, not one of them had been spent partying or clubbing or indulging in wild, hedonistic sex. His gaze lifted as that last option popped into her head, and his knowing smile came slow.

‘As I said, I’ve been busy.’ She turned back to the screen, back to work, back to oblivion—please.

He sat angled side on, obviously watching her, waiting. In the end she couldn’t resist. What he’d said…had he really thought she was beautiful back then? If that was the case, then why had he done it?

She gave up the mental gymnastics and looked at him, decided to brazen it out. ‘You had your chance.’

‘Meaning I won’t get another?’ His eyes were all daring now.

She looked straight into them, cool as she could. ‘No.’

His smile curved into a gentle crescent—like a stretch of sand along a beautiful beach that tempted you to race across it and dive in. ‘Your mouth says one thing, your body another.’

‘Oh, please.’ Sarcasm flooded from her that time. ‘You think that line’s going to get you anything but a knock-back?’

‘Too close to the truth?’

‘Too much male chauvinist.’

‘Tell me no and I’ll listen. Whether you mean it or not.’ He leaned closer to her, holding her gaze with his as he spoke soft and slow. ‘I’ve never needed to pressure a woman. Usually they come on to me.’

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